After receiving more than 2,000 complaints since July 2014, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) is warning investors against being offered products and services from outside their regulatory perimeter.
More than half of all complaints received were related to scams, or money being lost to – or withheld by – unregistered or unlicensed companies, some of which are offshore.
Often, the companies involved offer ‘big win’ products such as forex trading services, investment schemes, property seminars and forex training software.
The FMA says it is focused on identifying any individual or entity that is operating in New Zealand without a licence or authorisation, where that is required by law.
The regulator has warned that some companies are overseas operations and the FMA will only be alerted to them once a local investor has a problem with them.
Outside local jurisdiction, the FMA generally can’t help people to recover funds or take legal action.
Director of regulation Liam Mason says, “The Financial Markets Conduct Act has determined what products are regulated and it has strengthened the powers we have over the providers’ conduct. Unfortunately we recognise there will always be businesses that deliberately set up outside our jurisdiction and still manage to entice New Zealand investors to use their services.”
The FMA’s response to this has been to alert the public when it is concerned with an individual or business by issuing warnings on their website and, in some cases, strongly recommending against investing with these companies.
“For example Forex trading is considered a high risk, complicated investment and so we recommend consumers protect themselves as much as possible when contemplating this – or indeed any – investment. Do some research and take advantage of the Financial Markets Conduct Act and the protections it offers the investor,” says Mason.